Second Republican in one day announces he's quitting Congress


Republicans can't flee Congress fast enough these days.

On Wednesday, Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner announced he won't be seeking reelection in 2020, giving up the seat he has held since 1979.

Speaking to conservative radio host Mark Belling, Sensenbrenner, who has served in Congress since 1979, said he wouldn't be seeking a 22nd term.

That makes Sensenbrenner the second Republican in just one day to call it quits. The first was Texas Rep. Bill Flores, who announced Wednesday morning that, "after much prayer," he had decided not to seek reelection, joining the so-called Texodus of Texas Republicans who have announced their retirement this cycle.

It's part of a larger nationwide trend of Republicans — more than a dozen so far — who have decided not to run again. Fellow Wisconsin Republican Sean Duffy announced just last week that he is stepping down in September.

Sensenbrenner represents Wisconsin's 5th Congressional District, a deeply red area Trump easily carried in 2016. Like most of his fellow Republicans, Sensenbrenner has been a reliable supporter of Trump's agenda, voting with him nearly 88% of the time.

In 2017, Sensenbrenner defended Trump's decision to roll back Obama-era rules protecting privacy on the internet by claiming "nobody's got to use the internet."

Despite his years as chair of the House Science Committee and ranking member of the House Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming, he also has a reputation as one of the most anti-science members in Congress — no easy task in a party filled with anti-science members. He called climate change a "massive international scientific fraud," and baselessly claimed in 2009, "There’s increasing evidence of scientific fascism that’s going on."

When Republicans took over the House in the 2010 election, Sensenbrenner wanted to chair that committee for the explicit purpose of mocking climate science and investigating the supposed "fraud."

Sensenbrenner insisted Wednesday that his retirement has nothing to do with serving in the House minority or with a fear that Republicans will not be able to win back the House next year.

"You can see the end of the line sometime," he said. "Being able to do this on my timetable rather than after a redistricting in 2022 will allow me to go out on a high note."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.